This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
there’d have been no room for the child.
By Madeleine L’Engle, from A Cry Like a Bell, 1987.
As we all prepare for the holidays in this last week before Christmas, I am thinking of the Song of Mary, The Magnificat, that we will hear in song and scripture this Sunday. Mary sings this song of praise in Luke 1 after she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. It is a song of abundance and of justice for the marginalized. As the story goes Mary said, “Yes” to the angel who proclaims she will bear the Son of God. And we know it was not a rational answer. It caused her problems as she was technically an “unwed” mother. She had not known a man though she was betrothed to Joseph. Why would she put herself in this compromising situation as a young, vulnerable woman? Why does she say “yes?” It seems to be the irrationality and joy of deep faith rather than the rationality of a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
Mary seems to understand L’Engle’s poem. She understands about love blooming “bright and wild.” The writer of Luke puts the psalm we know as The Magnificat in Mary’s mouth to prompt and challenge our understanding of God’s irrational ways of love in the world. Sending the child, Jesus, Emmanuel, God-With-Us, was not a rational solution to the world’s problems in the 1stcentury Roman empire. It is still not rational in the 21stcentury. Yet it is the exact miracle we need year after year after year.
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt,
to a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
By Madeleine L’Engle. From A Cry Like a Bell, 1987
I hope you will join us this last Sunday in Advent at 9 or 11 a.m. or 6 p.m. to celebrate the Song of Mary and its relevance for our world today. And join us on Christmas Eve at all our family friendly services, 3 p.m. for our “instant” Nativity Pageant service or at 5 and 7 p.m. for our services of Lessons and Carols! At 4:40 and 6:40 there will also be pre-service choral performances of the Christmas Oratorio by Camille Saint-Saëns.
Blessings for Advent and Christmas,
* Image Credit
Visitation, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56718 [retrieved December 17, 2018]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/johndonaghy/22885862/ - John Donaghy.
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate, Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Learn more about Jane Ann here.